Soundwave, the mobile app that tracks the listening habits of you, your friends and other users you follow, to help you discover more and better music, is rolling out a significant update today that sees it manoeuvre to try to become the ‘water cooler’ of what people are listening to right now. It’s doing this via a raft of new social features, specifically the ability to create ad-hoc private messaging groups where you can discuss and share music with friends, regardless of which service it originates from.
The update also potentially pits Soundwave against behemoths like Facebook, which recently rolled out Facebook Audio ID (a feature similar to music recognition app Shazam), in an attempt to build on the social network as the place to congress virtually around music. We’ve also seen Twitter’s failed attempt to become music’s water cooler, and there are countless startups trying to conquer this space, such as France’s Whyd, to name but one.
However, Soundwave‘s core technology — the ability to track what are you listening to across multiple services and multiple platforms — is where it thinks it has the edge. “Now that we’ve got the smart tech in place, we’re in a great position to really start iterating on top,” co-founder and CEO Brendan O’Driscoll tells me. “There’s a huge opportunity that only we can unlock to be the one place where everyone can congregate to chat and share what music they are listening to, agnostic of device, music player, or streaming service.”
The new Soundwave — it’s practically a new app, as I understand — focuses on the ability to create private groups to instantly chat and share songs with friends. But its killer feature is the way any tracks shared automatically get added to the group’s historical playlist in a service-agnostic way.
“Swipe left inside any private group and see a playlist of all the songs that have been shared back and forth for that group,” explains O’Driscoll. “It doesn’t matter which player I use or if I use the same players as my friends or not. I can add the songs that I’ve been listening to on Rdio, SoundCloud and YouTube into the group and then my friends can take those songs and open them in Spotify or Deezer for example. Soundwave is the hub for music that sits across all music players – and allows you to simply share songs with your friends across any music player, streaming service or device.”
In other words, O’Driscoll wants Soundwave to become the “Switzerland of music,” supporting the socialising and sharing of music recommendations in a frictionless way, both in terms of tracking what you are listening to — a problem the startup focused on first — and, now, conversing around music. The iOS and Android app currently supports over 20 services, including Spotify, Rdio, Deezer, iTunes, YouTube, and SoundCloud.
“We can seize this opportunity to become the ‘digital water cooler’ because we’re the only ones that have the ‘over the top’ visibility as to what people listen to, and can as a result offer users the ability to share this info without friction or disruption to their normal listening routine,” he says.